Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: April 2010

Shape Matters: Why the ultra-basic corset draft doesn’t work for every body.

I made my first Elizabethan corset back in the dark ages of internet time, when it was still pretty common to ask Real Live Humans(tm) how to do things.  I got instructions that were relatively simple – a bust, a waist, divide by two, draw some lines, and presto-change-o, a corset pattern.  It’s the method that had always worked for the lady who gave me the info.  For me, it was a spectacular failure – too tight, too high in back, and completely uncomfortable to wear.  I blamed it on my generally costume-clue-impaired state.  But was there something else going on, that could result in two people having completely different luck with the same pattern draft?


Nape to Waist Length, Nape to Bust Line Length

The Nape to Waist Length measurement is, basically, the length of material needed to cover the front of the body from the bottom of the neck down to the waist.  It is a crucial to take this measurement correctly if one has any hope of drafting a bodice that fits correctly over the bust without riding up at the waist. Nape to Bustline Length tells us where the bust line is situated on the torso, and is also crucial to drafting patterns.


Neck to Shoulder Length

The Neck to Shoulder Length is crucial to making shifts, jackets, bodices, doublets, and basically any other garment with a fitted shoulder and/or a sleeve that sits at the point of the shoulder.  If your Neck to Shoulder Length is off, your finished garments will always look droopy-in-the-shoulder (too long) or have that entirely unflattering Ack!-my-sleeves-are-attacking-my-head effect (too short).  The first case, the drop shoulder, comes in and out of fashion, but the second is pretty universally regarded as a bad idea….

Leave a Comment


The Neck measurement is used in fitting any garment or accessory meant to sit closely around, or upon, the neck: collared shirts, gorgets, doublets, chokers, and early ruffs, to name a few.

1 Comment


Ankle measurements are useful for knitting custom socks (why, don’t you?), making jewelry (specifically anklets), and fitting big-poofy-gathered-at-the-ankle style pants (clowns, harem pants, etc).



Thighs happen.  I’ve personally always found that a bit disappointing, especially when I try to find pants that fit.  If you’re making a bifurcated nether-garment of any sort, and you want it to fit over your thighs, it’s helpful to have a proper measurement.  This measurement is also used in many men’s short-pants throughout history (canions, slops, etc).